Milestones are moments in the game where something has happened to justify some kind of advancement. Milestones largely occur according to the GM’s discretion, and the frequency of their occurrence will do a lot to establish the overall tone and feel of a campaign — frequent milestones allow the characters to grow rapidly and give a sort of “epic” feel to the campaign as the opposition scales in response; infrequent milestones make things feel more grounded and established.
Milestones fall into three categories—minor, significant, and major. There are some guidelines for when each happens, along with what characters can do during each type of milestone.
Minor milestones usually occur at the end of a session of play, or whenever one significant piece of a story is resolved. A minor milestone allows the characters to evolve in response to the story that’s been unfolding before them.
When a minor milestone occurs, you may choose one of the following:
Switch the rank values of any two skills, or replace one Average skill with one that isn’t on your sheet.
Change any single stunt for another stunt.
Purchase stunts or powers, provided you have the refresh to do so.
Rename one aspect.
Minor milestones are ideal when you want to switch the focus of your character’s existing abilities or change something on the character sheet, like a skill or the wording of an aspect. Maybe something happens in the story that makes part of your character’s sheet seem inappropriate, or you’ve simply discovered that your choice of skills, aspects, and stunts don’t match ␣ your expectations in play.
Obviously, these changes should be justified as much as possible, either within the story (“Hey, my character’s contact died, so I think I want to make his JOETHERELIABLECONTACT aspect into VENGEANCEFORJOE, okay?”) or as a result of play (“So I thought I wanted this guy to have a Good (+3) Presence, but I’m not really using it much — it’d be more fitting if he had a lower Presence and a higher Rapport, so I’m going to switch it out with my Fair (+2) Rapport.”). If the skill you’re switching out is at Average (+1), you may change it for a skill that isn’t on your sheet. Be careful when switching a character’s peak skills (his highest ones), though – this can significantly change the character, which is not the purpose of a minor milestone. Keep it in character, so to speak.
A significant milestone usually occurs at the conclusion of a scenario or a major plotline (or once every two or three sessions). Significant milestones are about advances of experience, as the characters have learned new things in dealing with problems and challenges.
When a significant milestone occurs, your character gets all of the following:
One additional skill rank.
One of the benefits of a minor milestone.
Of particular note here is getting one additional skill rank to spend on a new skill slot, because it can be a little confusing. The costs are the same as in Character Creation, so one skill rank buys an Average slot, which you can then fill with any skill you want. If you want a bigger slot, you have to bank a few significant milestones’ worth of advancement first.
When you’re upgrading an existing skill, you need only pay the difference in cost—if you have an Average slot, you can upgrade it to a Fair slot by paying one rank.
Important: Remember the rule from Character Creation that says you can’t have more skills at a given rank than you have at any lesser rank? That still applies here. As an example, suppose you have a skill layout of one Great, two Good, three Fair, and four Average. Imagine that these are represented as building blocks stacked atop one another, each level representing a rank.
A major milestone should only occur when something has happened in the campaign that shakes it up a lot—either when a few scenarios have concluded, or a long, large-scale plotline wraps up. When these happen, the characters jump up a scale of power.
When a major milestone occurs, your character gets all of the following:
You can “clear out” an extreme conse- quence slot, allowing it to be used again.
An additional point of refresh.
New stunts and/or powers.
All the benefits of a significant milestone.
These milestones signify a major change in the power structure of your campaign your characters are going to be dealing with a whole new tier of obstacles from here on out.
Consider how even basic character options are affected by one jump in refresh — 7 refresh isn’t enough for a PC to be a full wizard, but 8 is. Two refresh covers the cost of buying off the initial decision to play a Pure Mortal, allowing the character to take on supernatural powers. Even just the bump to a skill that a stunt provides can radically alter the nature of a character’s effectiveness.
This is a really big deal; it means that the PCs are directly able to take on more powerful threats and have a wider variety of resources to draw on to face those threats. (To use a boxing analogy, an advancement of power is like stepping up to the next weight class — you might be the most skilled boxer in the world, but if you’re a featherweight, there’s still only so much you can do against a less-skilled heavyweight.)
Another option the GM has for a major milestone is to increase the skill cap by one rank. This allows the characters to raise their skills up into larger-than-life levels, transcending all previous expectations of human (or inhuman) capability. This can be combined with the normal refresh award as often as the GM wishes. By default, one skill cap increase should probably come every two or three major milestones, happening a few times per campaign at most. A campaign where the skill cap increases with every new major milestone gains will get to Epic (literally) levels very quickly.